Yesterday, a gorgeous Catalina PBY named Flora-Bama that was being used as a prop for the upcoming Nicolas Cage movie USS Indianapolis: Men of Honor began taking on water while performing touch and goes for the camera. Today, the plane sits half sunk in the surf along Gold Beach, Florida, a most peculiar sight for beach-goers.
Corrections: The Catalina was not named Flora-Bama, it ended up resting along the Florida-Alabama line where a popular restaurant and bar is called Flora-Bama.
You can see a gallery of what the abandoned plane looks like today here.
Apparently the vintage flying was about a mile off shore before it began taking on water. Then divers assigned to the movie production crew went out and pulled it towards the beach and started running pumps to get rid of the water. That didn’t work so well. They even tried to use a backhoe to pull it onto the beach, but the lines snapped. You can see a gallery of the attempted rescue of the flying rescue and patrol boat here.
The Catalina was a key player in the rescue of sailors after the USS Indianapolis was struck by Japanese torpedoes during World War II, so its role in the film is obvious. Only 321 of the 1196 crew aboard the doomed heavy cruiser survived until rescuers arrived, with many succumbing to a lack of water, sun exposure, the sea and the hungry sharks in it. The whole ordeal remains one of the most harrowing tales of WWII.
Apparently, the film crew was out on the beach today seeing if they could film a scene around the stranded and half-sunk flying boat, although it is not clear if anything was successfully shot.
There is currently no plan or timetable to remove the historic flying boat from the sand bar it’s resting on. Although it looks like it’s pretty well intact, a storm or rough seas could pummel the airplane to pieces if it is not moved to a safe area beforehand.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.